Top Showrunner Mara Brock Akil has partnered with Los Angeles-based beauty company Orly to release a curated trio of nail polishes, with all proceeds benefiting her nonprofit organization, The Writers’ Colony. The collection, called In the Land of Mara x Orly Color Labs, includes three shades that hold personal significance for Brock Akil. Vintage Vanity is a blush hue inspired by her grandmother’s pink vanity, Mocha Memories is a light brown shade that represents her motivation to write from a place of humanity for Black characters, and Cloud Cover is a white lacquer that represents the blank canvas that inspired her to follow her dreams.
Brock Akil, the creator of popular shows like Girlfriends and The Game, believes that hands are the first purveyors of a writer’s voice. As a writer, she looks at her hands all day and recognizes the power they hold in bringing characters and stories to life. She wanted to create something that acknowledges this power while also allowing artists to reflect on beauty and self-care rituals, which can influence their work.
The Writers’ Colony, the nonprofit organization that benefits from the proceeds of the polish collection, supports striking writers by providing them with stipends. The organization aims to create a safe space for writers to write, belong to a community, and transact with their voice. It offers opportunities for writers to get to know their own voices as artists before engaging with the business side of the industry. The Writers’ Colony has already supported 20 writers and plans to expand its reach in the future.
Brock Akil and Orly connected through a mutual acquaintance, creative consultant Allie Rose. The screenwriter was drawn to Orly because it is a family-owned, LA-based company that combines the three steps of a manicure into one product. She appreciates the convenience and time-saving aspects of Orly’s nail polishes, which are ideal for someone constantly on the go like herself.
Through the partnership with Orly, Brock Akil hopes to support the growth of the Writers’ Colony. The organization is currently in the process of expanding its program and aims to transition from an invite-only model to a public one that can offer stipends based on need. Every financial contribution from the partnership will be an important step in this direction. The organization is also excited to welcome four talented writers to its fall cohort, who will be working alongside veteran Artists in Residence.
When asked about her nail polish power color, Brock Akil enthusiastically reveals that it is red. Red is magnetic, sexy, and full of agency. It demands attention and desire. Her grandmother, who only wore red nails, serves as her inspiration for embracing the power of red. In her 50s, Brock Akil decided it was time to show up boldly and no longer play small. Red became a constant reminder of her grandmother’s legacy and a symbol of belonging.
For Brock Akil, beauty is a non-negotiable aspect of life. She believes that beauty is often seen as a luxury or something that people don’t deserve. However, she sees beauty as a necessity and incorporates it into every aspect of her life. She values beauty as a way to have a vision outside of herself and to reach for her highest potential.
As a seasoned showrunner, Brock Akil offers advice to aspiring and veteran writers. Her approach to the industry is simple: identify what you really want and start writing. Once you complete your work, seek feedback from respected peers and mentors, and take time to reflect on their advice. Then, immerse yourself in activities that inspire creativity, such as spending time in nature, cooking, and listening to music. Ultimately, the key to success lies in sitting down and writing.
Looking ahead, Brock Akil hopes to see more stories that prioritize truth in storytelling, especially stories that center the human condition of marginalized individuals. As a storyteller, she wants to highlight the complexities and desires of Black individuals, focusing not only on their external hardships but also on the depth of their human experiences.
Through her partnership with Orly and the release of the In the Land of Mara x Orly Color Labs collection, Mara Brock Akil is using her platform to support striking writers and empower artists to embrace their own voices. With the proceeds from the collection, the Writers’ Colony can continue to provide stipends to writers and foster a community that nurtures and uplifts their voices.